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Reflection on Professional Competencies

Daniel Vorwerk
University of Northern Iowa


Personal and Ethical Foundations

Of the sixteen foundational outcomes identified for the Personal and Ethical Foundations
(PPF) competency area, I selected five that I believe I have obtained and one that I am on my
way to reaching. A few of the five I believe I have already accomplished are:

Articulate key elements of ones set of personal beliefs and commitments

(e.g., values, morals, goals, desires, self-definitions), as well as the source of each
(e.g., self, peers, family, or one or more larger communities).

Take responsibility to broaden perspectives by participating in activities

that challenge ones beliefs.

Identify the challenges associated with balancing personal and

professional responsibilities, and recognize the intersection of ones personal and
professional life.
I am not surprised by the fact that there are several outcomes that I have yet to explore in
this competency area. The PPF competency area is one in which I believe develops outside of
the classroom and cannot be learned by reading a textbook. Rather, this is a competency area
that develops over time as professionals gain new experiences in life and in the student affairs
profession. Due to the fact that this is my first semester in the program and that I have had no
experience working with students thus far, I have not had much time to develop in the PPF
competency area. I have chosen two foundational outcomes as goals to become proficient in
during my time as a graduate student; they are:

Describe the ethical statements and their foundational principles of any

professional associations directly relevant to ones working context.
Recognize the importance of reflection in personal, professional, and ethical

The first outcome is a goal that will be challenging, as I will have to go out of my way to
accomplish it. The second may come with time, but will take more than idle thinking for this to
become routine.


Values, Philosophy, and History

Of the fifteen foundational outcomes identified for the Values, Philosophy, and History
(VPH) competency area, I selected six that I believe I am proficient in already and one that I am
on my way to accomplishing. A few of the six outcomes that I believe I have already achieved

Articulate the historical contexts of institutional types and functional areas

within higher education and student affairs.

Describe the roles of faculty, academic affairs, and student affairs

educators in the institution.

Explain the role and responsibilities of student affairs professional

Of these three outcomes, the second one is the one that I believe I have developed the
most over the course of my first semester. This is due in part to what I have learned in both my
Introduction to Student Affairs course as well as my Organization and Governance of Higher
Education course, however, a large part of what I have learned has been gleaned from my
experiences with the UNI STEM office. This office has given me the opportunity to interact
with faculty and the academic affairs world quite closely. These experiences, paired with my
learning in the two previously mentioned coursed, have allowed me to better understand how
faculty think and operate as I am interacting with them in a work setting. However, there are still
many foundational outcomes that I have yet to master and that is why I have chosen two of the
foundational outcomes as goals to work toward:

Learn and articulate the principles of professional practice.

Be able to model the principles of the profession and expect the same from
colleagues and supervisees.


I have chosen these because of how well they compliment each other. The first outcome
is one that perplexes me, as I do not necessarily know what the principles of professional
practice are so I must be proactive in figuring it out in order to accomplish this goal.


Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

Of the eleven foundational outcomes identified for the Assessment, Evaluation, and
Research (AER) competency area, I only selected one that I believe I have accomplished already.
That one outcome is:

Explain the necessity to follow institutional and divisional procedures and

policies (e.g., IRB approval, informed consent) with regard to ethical assessment,
evaluation, and other research activities.
As I read through all of the foundational outcomes, I was shocked that I did not feel
confident in any of them. About half way down the competency area sheet, I read the outcome
listed above and recalled my undergraduate studies where we were instructed on the IRB
approval process and required to submit paperwork through the process in order to conduct a
research study for class. The importance of this became clear as our professor read stories online
about research gone wrong because of ethical standards not being followed and procedures that
were improperly conducted. While the legitimacy of these articles was questionable, the truth
they spoke as to the purpose of conducting research correctly was valid. It is because of that
project for that course that I was able to confidently say that I have mastered one of the
foundational outcomes for the AER competency. However, there are ten more to accomplish, so
I set a goal to accomplish these two, at the very least, by the end of my time in the program:

Differentiate among assessment, program review, evaluation, planning, and

research as well as the methods appropriate to each.
Select AER methods methodologies, designs, and tools that fit with research and
evaluation questions and with assessment and review purposes.

These are the first two foundational outcomes listed for the AER competency area and
hopefully I will be able to say I have reached these outcomes after taking Research &
Assessment next semester.


Law, Policy, and Governance

Of the thirteen foundational outcomes identified for the Law, Policy, and Governance
(LPG) competency area, I selected four outcomes that I believe I have reached and two that I am
on my way to accomplishing. A few of the four I believe I have already accomplished are:

Act in accordance with national, state/provincial, and local laws and with
institutional policies regarding non-discrimination.

Describe the governance systems of ones institution including the

governance structures for faculty, student affairs professionals, staff, and students.
I find myself comfortable in this competency area, as law and governance are two areas
of interest that go back to my time as a freshman social science education major. I enjoy rules
and regulations, as they allow for order and processes to exist in my life. This type of
personality that I have makes a competency area such as LPG easy to understand. From
conversations I have had with university officials in both Organization and Governance of
Higher Education as well as in Introduction to Student Affairs, I have learned a lot about how
UNI is organized and run as an institution. Even though I feel confident in this competency area,
I still believe that I have more to learn within the foundational outcomes which is why I have
chosen these two as goals from this area:

Explain the differences between public, private, and for-profit higher education
with respect to the legal system and what they may mean for respective students,
faculty, and student affairs professionals.
Describe evolving laws, policies, and judicial rulings that influence the studentinstitutional relationship and how they affect professional practice.

These are two foundational outcomes of this competency area that I found intriguing and
challenging. Much like some of my other goals, they will take work to accomplish and will not
come based on experience but through exploration of the field and a search for answers. While I
may learn basics about these in future courses, to fully master these outcomes will take more.


Organizational and Human Resources

Of the twenty-one foundational outcomes identified for the Organizational and Human
Resources (OHR) competency area, I selected nine outcomes that I think I have achieved
already. A few of those nine are:

Communicate with others using effective verbal and non-verbal strategies

appropriate to the situation in ways that the person(s) with whom you are engaged

Understand the relational roles partners, allies, and adversaries play in the
competition of goals and work assignments.

Describe campus protocols for responding to significant incidents and

campus crises.
The OHR competency area was one that surprised me at first. Judging the competency
based on the title, I didnt necessarily think that I would know so much about it already. Then as
I read through the foundational outcomes, this was the competency area that I believe I will
progress into intermediate outcomes the quickest in. I ranked myself as still learning the
foundational outcomes because of how many there actually are; I still believe that there is more
of a foundation for me to still learn before progressing further. I have chosen three goals in the
OHR competency area, they are:

Describe ethical hiring techniques and institutional hiring policies, procedures,

and processes.
Effectively and appropriately use facilities management procedures as related to
operating a facility or program in a facility.
Demonstrate an understanding of how physical space impacts the institutions
educational mission.

I chose the last two outcomes as goals in this competency area because of my interest in
campus ecology and how physical space impacts the culture of an institution. The second goal
plays more into physical space for programing and the third goal plays more into physical space
for the campus environment.


Of the seventeen foundational outcomes identified for the Leadership (LEAD)
competency area, I selected eight that I believe I am proficiently accomplishing already. A few
of the eight I believe I have found success in are:

Identify and understand individual-level constructs of leader and


Identify ones own strengths and challenges as a leader and seek

opportunities to develop leadership skills.

Describe how ones personal values, beliefs, histories, and perspectives

inform ones view of oneself as an effective leader with and without roles of
The (LEAD) competency area is one that I was surprised by. Reading over the brief
description provided for this competency, I did not think I would identify with so many of the
outcomes in the foundational level. It does make sense though that I identify with eight of these
because of how the foundational outcomes are split into four subsections. I identified an even
number of outcomes in each subsection that I have mastered and that I need to develop further in.
I have been fortunate in my time as an undergraduate student to develop leadership skills through
internships and student organizations that set me up to be proficient in several of the outcomes,
even in my first semester of graduate studies. Two of the goals I have for myself in this
competency area before graduating in a few years are:

Articulate the vision and mission of the primary work unit, the division, and the
Build mutually supportive relationships with colleagues and students across
similarities and differences.

Next semester I begin my first practicum experience in the Dean of Students office at
UNI. This experience will be my first one that involves working with students in a superior role


(advisor-advisee). It is my goal to learn the vision and mission of the Dean of Students office
and accomplish my first goal for this competency area during my next semester of study.



Social Justice and Inclusion

Of the eight foundational outcomes identified for the Social Justice and Inclusion (SJI)
competency area, I selected one outcome that I believe I completely understand and is already a
part of who I am as a professional. That one is:

Connect and build meaningful relationships with others while recognizing

the multiple, intersecting identities, perspectives, and developmental differences
people hold.
This foundational outcome is one that I do not believe I fully achieved until well into my
senior year of undergraduate studies. Growing up in a small, Iowa town, I was not really
exposed to diversity or different perspectives than my own until I began studying at UNI; and
even then, I did not make an effort to build relationships with people who believe in different
things than me until I was a few years in. The SJI competency area is the one area in which I
know I have the most to learn and grow in, however, I have taken steps in this area though.
From attending concurrent sessions at the NASPA region IV conference on sexual orientation
and being inclusive, to conversations I have had with individuals who identify in the LGBTQ
community, my knowledge on the differences they face and the perspectives they hold has grown
so much this semester. Moving forward, these are the two foundational outcomes that I hope to
accomplish in the coming year:

Understand how one is affected by and participates in maintaining systems of

oppression, privilege, and power.
Engage in critical reflection in order to identify ones own prejudices and biases.

These goals are challenging for me, and if Im being completely honest, I do not know if
I will be able to master them in the coming semesters. However, goals are meant to be big; they
are meant to seem unreachable, and if I want to better myself as a student affairs professional, I
must set high expectations for myself.



Student Learning and Development

Of the nine foundational outcomes identified for the Student Learning and Development
(SLD) competency area, I selected one that I believe I have mastered and three that I am on my
way to accomplishing. The one I think I am proficient in already is:

Identify the strengths and limitations in applying existing theories and

models to varying student demographic groups.
Much like the Leadership competency area, I was surprised about my analysis of my
level of achievement among the outcomes. I believed that I would be able to identify as
proficient in more foundational outcomes than I ended up being able to do so in. The one that I
identified as proficient in is a relatively new proficiency for me, as I have only just been able to
identify the strengths and limitations in applying theories because of what I have learned in my
College Student Development course. Two of the three outcomes that I believe I am on the way
to mastering are two of my goals for the coming few semesters of study; they are:

Articulate theories and models that describe the development of college students
and the conditions and practices that facilitate holistic development (e.g., learning,
psychosocial and identity development, cognitive-structural, typological,
environmental, and moral).
Articulate how race, ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, age, sexual orientation,
gender identity, dis/ability, and religious belief can influence development during
the college years.

These goals are ones that I believe are achievable, but will still take some intentional
thought and discipline in order to reach and maintain. The first goal will come with time, as I
begin to understand and memorize development theories to the point at which they come second
nature to me. The second goal fits well with some of my other goals from other competency
areas, specifically the social justice and inclusion competency area. Obtaining this goal will take
intentionality as I learn from daily experiences as a pre-professional.



Of the fourteen foundational outcomes identified for the Technology (TECH)
competency area, I selected six outcomes that I feel I have mastered and one that I am on my
way to accomplishing. A few of the six I believe I am already accomplishing are:

Demonstrate adaptability in the face of fast-paced technological change.

Demonstrate awareness of ones digital identity and engage students in

learning activities related to responsible digital communications and virtual
community engagement as related to their digital reputation and identity.

Appropriately utilize digital communication and collaboration tools to

market and promote advising, programming and other learning-focused
interventions and to engage students in these activities.
Technology, and the use of it in education and in the workplace, is something that has
interested me throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies. As the world has developed
and technology has advanced, I have enjoyed keeping up with the latest trends in technology and
how it can be utilized professionally. A passion of mine is how people present themselves online
and the story that their social networking presence tells about who they are and what they value.
The second foundational outcome is something I have worked for with my own digital identity
and have encouraged students to be aware of, even though I wasnt in an advisory role to them.
Below are two goals I have for this competency area from the foundational outcomes.

Critically assess the accuracy and quality of information gathered via technology
and accurately cite electronic sources of information respecting copyright law and
fair use.
Engage in personal and professional digital learning communities and personal
learning networks at the local, national, and/or global level.

The first goal I hope to accomplish during my first practicum next semester as I evaluate
MapWorks data about students in order to better serve them. The second part of that outcome
will be accomplished in classroom settings as situations present themselves.



Advising and Supporting

Of the fourteen foundational outcomes identified for the Advising and Supporting (A/S)
competency area, I selected three outcomes that I feel I have accomplished already; they are:

Establish rapport with students, groups, colleagues, and others that

acknowledges differences in lived experiences.

Recognize the strengths and limitations of ones own worldview on

communication with others (e.g., how terminology could either liberate or
constrain others with different gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities,
cultural backgrounds, etc.).

Conscientiously use appropriate nonverbal communication.

Due to the nature of my graduate assistantship this semester, I have not been afforded any
opportunities to work with students in an advisory role. However, that does not mean that I do
not interact with undergraduate students in my work; that is why I feel as though I have mastered
a few of the foundational outcomes. The most recent one that I have developed is the second
outcome listed above. As mentioned in an earlier competency area reflection, I come from a
small town and grew up with a limited view of the world and the different people who live in it.
This semester of graduate study has opened my eyes to this difference and made me realize how
much I need to be aware of peoples differences and how I communicate with others. I engaged
in a conversation with fellow graduate student, Cheltzie Miller-Bailey, a few weeks ago about
gender identity and the difference between that and sexual orientation. Her insight made me
realize how much I have to learn about other peoples views and how I communicate with those
who are different than me. That being said, I have two goals in this competency area; they are:

Know and use referral sources (e.g., other offices, outside agencies, knowledge sources),
and exhibit referral skills in seeking expert assistance.
Know and follow applicable laws, policies, and professional ethical guidelines relevant to
advising and supporting students development.
These are goals that I believe will be met with time spent in pre-professional experiences.